About Robyn Roste

The short story is I'm a professional writer living and working in Abbotsford, BC Canada.

Get the Hell Into It by Sarah Beth Moore [book review]

Procrastinating on a big project? Letting Big Shiny Object Syndrome get the best of you? It might be time to Get the Hell Into It.

Get the Hell Into It

The subtitle of Sarah Beth Moore’s newest book may cut to the quick even more than her title: Stop Bouncing from Idea to Idea and Learn to See Things Through. Ouch. Also, thank you.

For 12 chapters of teaching and exercises, Moore takes us on a pointed yet lighthearted journey reminding us making our dreams come true is our job, not something we sit around wishing for. Since she’s also a creative soul, Moore speaks from experience about starting projects with great enthusiasm only to quit before beginning (it will probably fail anyway, right?). She also offers strategies for combating the dual devils of procrastination and big shiny object syndrome with the smart takeoff, the 5-percent rule and working forwards (I swear by this one!).

Chapter 9 talks about getting lucky, which I found both uncomfortable and refreshing. I know there’s no luck…but maybe deep down I wonder if I’m just unlucky. You know? Why am I still here, all these years later hustling my butt off watching those who came after me see more success? Moore says don’t even worry about it—becoming successful is not your job. “One more time: You don’t get to pick the timing of your break. It will come when it comes.”

It may be possible to put aside comparison and jealousy if only I can remember my job is to get the job done. Success is not my job. Success is not my job.

If you can accept that you are not in control of your break—that you are not in control of anything but your ability to work hard—then you have a way better chance of getting that break at all.

Yes the artistic, creative life is filled with insecurity and emotion. And it’s important to be gentle and build each other up. But at some point there’s work to do and you need some tough love. You need to get the hell into it and do your job.

Get the Hell Into It: Stop Bouncing from Idea to Idea and Learn to See Things Through (Weenie-Proofing the Artistic Brain Book 2) synopsis

Stop Falling Prey to Shiny Object Syndrome and Start Seeing Ideas Through

What if instead of starting new projects every other week, you actually finished the ones you already have going? What if in a few weeks you started seeing real progress, and in a few months could hold finished manuscripts, paintings or websites in your figurative hand? What if your creativity became a source of empowerment and financial freedom rather than dread, resentment and ever-present bathtub crying?

Professional copywriter and creative Sarah Beth Moore has helped clients double their conversions, written copy for hundreds of entrepreneurs, and coached dozens of amazing creatives in sucker-punching procrastination and actually getting things done. (She spends a lot of time opining about aliens as well, but fewer people pay for that.)

In the course of working with so many aspiring writers, artists and business owners, she’s noticed that beating procrastination doesn’t require superhuman strength. All you need is the right mental mindset, available to anyone willing to look for it. In Get the Hell Into It, you’ll learn:

  • How productivity can work against you BIG TIME
  • What actually lies at the root of the creative urge
  • The real reason creatives quit projects before they even begin (or soon after)
  • Why you’re shooting yourself in the foot with the way you start projects
  • How successful people maintain enthusiasm throughout the entire creative cycle
  • What the 5-Percent Rule is and why it’s so critical to your success
  • What to do when you don’t have a whole day to work on your creativity
    The true meaning of luck (it’s not what you think, dude)
  • How to win big by giving up control
  • The secret nature of doubt and how you can deal with it on REAL terms
  • What editing really means to creatives
  • How to kick booty and see every project through

Get the Hell Into It is the definitive step-by-step guide to overcoming procrastination and Shiny Object Syndrome and actually finishing projects and launching creative dreams—and it’s a process you can follow for life.

Procrastinating on a big project? Letting Big Shiny Object Syndrome get the best of you? The  creative life is filled with insecurity and emotion. And it's important to be gentle and build each other up. But at some point there's work to do and you need some tough love. You need to get the hell into it and do your job.

Other reviews

5 Important Twitter Tips for Freelance Writers in 2018

It’s 2018 and I’m writing Twitter tips for writers. I know, I thought all the writers would have got the memo by now too.

Just kidding. I know you’re not on Twitter because you’ve heard it’s dead and you don’t understand it and you don’t know what you’d do with 10,000 followers anyway (all real things writers have said to me, by the way). And that’s OK. But I think you should be on Twitter because that’s where the writing people are.
twitter tips for writers

Like, all of them.

  • Agents
  • Editors
  • Publishers
  • Publications
  • Authors
  • Freelance Writers
  • All the writing people

Because everyone’s there, and you are a writer, I’d like to take this opportunity to prompt you to re-consider being there. Or if you haven’t visited in a while, to log back in.

Pull up a chair and get ready to take some notes, because these are the five most important things to pay attention to on Twitter if you want to connect with any of the types of people listed above.

Twitter Tips for Writers

Use the @mention tool as much as possible.

One of Twitter’s strengths is giving you direct access to people you don’t know, but want to. And when you @mention someone (this means tagging the Twitter user in a tweet) it grabs their attention and helps them notice you in a not-creepy way.

Even though the landscape has changed over the years, Twitter is still all about connecting. When you compose tweets, you should be thinking about who you can mention in it.

For example

  • If you’re sharing a great article you read, @mention the person who wrote it and the publication that published it
  • If you’re tweeting about having a great writing session at the local coffee shop, @mention who you were with and where
  • If you’re at a writing conference or event @mention the speaker you’re watching and the conference you’re attending

By integrating @mentions into your tweeting strategy it helps keeps your content focused, relays valuable information to your followers, and helps you make connections.

Use hashtags; use the right hashtags.

Because Twitter is all about connecting, people use hashtags to find and follow information or people. They’re so important on Twitter. Maybe I’m preaching the the choir here, and you already understand hashtag best practices but I’ll mention it again just in case. Hashtags are meant to help people find you and connect with you. So using hashtags and using the right hashtags is pretty important.

If you’re wondering how to find hashtags, I have a little guide here and some hashtags for writers to get you started.

Using the examples above, here are a few hashtags you could try. Remember, we’re using hashtags to connect with people so we’re not making up our own or trying to be clever. Those are throwaways.

  • If you’re sharing a great article you read and want other writers to check it out, try #bookrecommendations #amreading or #writingtip
  • If you’re tweeting about having a great writing session why not try #writerslife #writersgroup or #critiquegroup
  • If you’re at a writing conference or event make sure to use the event hashtag along with whatever the topic is about (e.g. #writingprompts or #writingcommunity etc.)

Use lists.

As far as Twitter tips go, this is the one that’s made the most difference to my Twitter experience. Lists keep things streamlined, which—if you’ve followed me for any amount of time—you know I’m a big fan of.

Lists are curated groups of Twitter users, making it possible to spend less time on Twitter and yet take strategic connecting to the next level. Your lists can be public or private and I recommend a mix of both. Here are a few lists you can create, just to get the creative juices flowing.

  • Agents you want to connect with
  • Writers you admire
  • People you want to work for or collaborate with
  • Local people you want to keep track of
  • People you meet at writing events

Once you create these types of lists, you then start adding Twitter users to them. If your list is public the user is notified when you add them to the list. If your list is private then no one knows about it and no one can see or follow your list. I have a few lists of people I’d like to connect with or work with and I keep those private, but some of my lists are curated based on types of writing and I keep those public so others can benefit from them if they want to follow my lists.

Twitter tip within a Twitter tip: If you don’t know much about Twitter lists but want to try them, here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up a list.

Complete and optimize your bio.

Your Twitter bio HAS to be complete AND optimized. You can’t be vague or clever or witty here, not if you want to make strategic connections. And the best way to make these connections is by ensuring your profile makes people want to connect with and follow you.

Here are five quick tips for optimizing your Twitter profile. If you want these tips in more detail and download form I have a free printable for you: 5 Tips for Optimizing Your Social Media Profiles.

  • Choose a professional/standout profile picture and cover photo
  • Make it easy for people to know who you are and what you do
  • Link to your website
  • Include keywords about your services
  • Be clear on your location/contact info

These are kind of basic tips but there are so many profiles out there missing one or more of these key elements. Let’s back up for a second and remember why we’re doing Twitter tips in the first place: We’re freelance writers looking to make connections with writing industry people. In order to make a good first impression and grab their attention, we want our Twitter profiles to be complete and optimized.

Understand Twitter best practices.

As far as Twitter tips go, this is one of those “duh” ones. If you want to succeed on Twitter, you have to understand how to use it properly and abide by its best practices. So while you want to create a strategy where you’re not on the platform 24/7, you also want to understand it enough to use it properly. What does this mean? Well, here are a few things that come to mind.

  • It means you don’t just set up your tweets to send out and never engage with others
  • It means you don’t spam people with self-promotion, you send valuable and on-brand content to your followers
  • It means you don’t stalk people! You follow them, you retweet them when appropriate, and you watch for opportunities to make genuine connections
  • It means you’re not just there for what you can get out the platform but you’re also there to be generous and add value
  • It means you join the conversation when you can, in real time.

Twitter, like all of social media, thrives on generosity. When you provide relevant information and entertainment and build genuine relationships you become a part of a vibrant community that you contribute to and also benefit from. By following best practices it ensures you aren’t seen as a spammer or someone just out for themselves. Also, it keeps you from getting kicked off Twitter. Which happens.

I hope these five Twitter tips help clarify a few things for what you should do on Twitter and why. There’s lots more we can cover like what to tweet, how to make connections, and how to curate all this valuable content you’re supposed to share. If you want to go deeper on any of these topics get in touch. I do offer social media coaching and training, customized to your unique needs.

It's 2018 and I'm writing Twitter tips for writers. I know you're not there because you've heard it's dead and you don't understand it and you don't know what you'd do with 10,000 followers anyway. And that's OK. But I think you should be on Twitter because that's where the writing people are.

More Twitter tips

Branding Yourself: Choosing a Niche

Have you ever wondered why people talk so much about branding yourself and your business? I used to wonder this a lot. Maybe you’ve heard it in terms of choosing your niche (or “niching down”) or becoming an expert in a certain area or industry. Or maybe you’ve been told to choose one thing and go all-in on it rather than being a generalist writer.

If you’re like most people, you resist the idea of branding yourself because you don’t want to miss out on paying work.

And I get it! However, today I’m going to tell you my story and why I took the advice to brand myself. For my freelance business, getting focused has not only brought in more paying work but the kind of writing I love to do. Amazing. Want to know more? Read on.

branding yourself as a freelance writer

I got into freelance writing in a roundabout way. Sort of. When I was finishing my journalism degree I pitched stories all over the place, trying to get enough legitimate and varying clippings to be considered employable post graduation. But once my portfolio was in good shape I stopped pitching articles and settled into blogging on my personal site instead.

After blogging for a while I began receiving emails requesting collaborations or offering sponsored post opportunities. And I was so flattered. Also surprised. I didn’t have any reason not to work with these people, companies, and brands so I did a variety of guest posts, sponsored posts, media events and promotional activities. Lots of them over the years. And I enjoyed doing them, they gave me interesting experiences, allowed me to try new products, and I was able to meet a lot of interesting people.

For the most part, I was happy with my site. I wasn’t trying to make money so anything that came in was a plus.

And then everything changed

I would look at my blog from time to time and wonder what it was all about. Since it was always a general “lifestyle” blog (a word here, which is an umbrella term for personal website consisting of whatever I felt like writing about) I didn’t have much direction so I meandered about over the years. A little writing about my journalism career, a little writing about my random jobs, a little writing about my travel adventures…whatever! And some promotional brand candy sprinkled in as it came up.

But then one day all the traffic stopped. Comments stopped. The money stopped. In stunned silence I looked around trying to figure out what had happened. I realized my site had been punished for a search engine infraction. In fallout from one of the Google search updates, my site was no longer considered a positive contributor to the Internet. From one day to the next I fell off the face of the blogosphere faster than…well, fast.

Now, this was a few years ago. And once I figured out what was going on and why I had a difficult decision to make. Do I start from scratch and rebuild everything or do I give up on my blog and try something else?

I knew it was time to start working on my freelance writing career and getting more clients but I wasn’t sure what to do. Up until now clients had come to me and I was happy to write for whoever would pay me. But now I had to put myself out there and try. What kind of writer was I? What kind of clients did I want? What kind of work did I need?

To be frank, it took me a while to decide what to do. I felt lost and ashamed.

Starting over seemed so difficult and I was afraid to go through all the work of building a website only to see nothing from it. But could I give it up? I loved blogging. Or did I? Was it just something I did because it was easy? I had some soul searching to do.

And soul searching I did. For a couple years. I studied blogging, I took branding and social media courses, I learned about marketing and business, and I wrote down my writing and career goals. And from all of this came a new direction. A clearer direction. Towards a destination.

Even when I started down the path I had plotted out, I still wasn’t certain I had decided right, if that makes sense. I had a sense of direction and purpose but the view was still foggy. Also I was embarrassed. It was awkward to admit I was struggling. When you’re feeling vulnerable it’s easy to compare yourself with others and allow that to hold you back and not get the help you need. But somehow I managed to push through it and kept asking questions and moving forward, step by step.

From this experience I’ve learned a lot about how branding yourself on your website or blog is good for search engine optimization as well as for attracting your ideal clients. But more than that, branding yourself is important for growing your business in the direction you want it to go.

When you’re desperate for work and a potential client approaches you waving wads of cash it is so easy to grab the money and take the gig so you can meet your immediate needs. And sometimes that’s just the way it is. But if you want your freelance business to grow and mature then you need to work on branding yourself and that means figuring out what you want to write and for who.

Before you can figure out your brand you have to know a few things.

  • Your ideal client
  • What problem you’re solving for your ideal client
  • Your focus/niche (what type of writing do you do? And what do you write about?)

When you know what you write and who you want to write for, it makes it a lot easier to attract those types of clients. It also makes it easy for you to turn away work that doesn’t fit your brand. I know that sounds counter-intuitive but here’s the rationale: if you become an expert at one type of writing (aka really really good at it) then you become FAST at it. And you don’t have to do as much prep work, pre-work, or research before you can dive into a job. When you’re writing about anything and everything you have to learn all about it before you can get to work. And while that’s fun sometimes, it’s not super efficient.

An online friend was telling me about how she does one kind of writing work: email sequences and sales pages for entrepreneurs. Now, that is quite specific. However, she’s specialized in this type of writing and she knows exactly what she’s doing. She’s quick, she’s confident, and she has many, many happy clients.

By zooming in on this particular type of writing she’s able to maximize her writing time doing what she loves and what she’s good at. And she’s able to say no to the writing jobs that she’s not specialized at without feeling like she’s leaving money on the table.

I admire my friend because this is where I want to go. She’s a little further down the road from me and this helps me see the value in branding yourself, in choosing a niche, and in sticking with what you’re good at.

So, today I’m pitching you this idea of choosing a niche and branding yourself. And trust me, I know how much you might be resisting this idea. Because I did too.

But here I am a couple years into my new and improved writing journey and I’m telling you, it’s amazing what a bit of clarity and direction can do for your writing business. And I’m only getting started.

Have you ever wondered why people talk so much about branding yourself and your business? I used to wonder this a lot. Maybe you've heard it in terms of choosing your niche (or "niching down") or becoming an expert in a certain area or industry. Or maybe you've been told to choose one thing and go all-in on it rather than being a generalist writer.

Other posts related to branding yourself

How to Choose a Writers Group

When I first started considering being a freelance writer I remember thinking…now what? I didn’t know where to start, who to talk to or how it all worked. Of course I Googled things but without a mentor to point me in the right direction I felt overwhelmed and paralyzed. After stumbling around for a while I met a freelance writer in person and she introduced me to a local writers group. I remember thinking…THIS is what I need! And you know what? It was.

how to find a writers group

Now that I’ve been around this world for a while I know there’s a lot of people on the Internet who advocate against writers groups. And their reasons are fair. If you get a bad group it can be a terrible waste of time and energy. If you’re in a group that’s not a good fit, you can feel unwelcome and competitive. If you’re in a group of people who aren’t there to be helpful, it can be a disheartening and negative experience.

But what if you get the right writers group?

Well! Now we’re talking. If you’re in a good writers group you’ll benefit from SO MANY THINGS!

Reasons to join a good writers group

  • You get out of your own head
  • You receive (instant) helpful and constructive feedback
  • You have others who believe in you and your work even when you don’t
  • You meet other writers
  • You hone your craft
  • You will be motivated
  • You will be kept accountable
  • You may even find a mentor

OK so I’ve convinced you to join a writers group. Great. Now for the next important question: HOW. How do you choose a writers group? How do you know which one is good?

How to choose a (good) writers group

Before you can choose a writers group you have to have some idea of what you’re looking for and what you need. You should know what type of writing you do, how much commitment you can make, what type of writers group you’re looking for (there are many kinds of writers groups: critique groups, mentorship groups, professional groups, genre-defined groups, non-fiction groups, freelance groups…etc.), and how formal you want the group to be. Once you know those things, here are a few ways to tell if the group is a good writers group.

    • Does the group have a clear and defined goal?

This doesn’t have to be engraved on a plaque but it does need to exist. If a group doesn’t know why they’re meeting it’s like a book club without a book…what’s the point?

    • Does the group have the same writing interests as you?

You want to make sure your writing interests are aligned. While it’s great to know writers from all sorts of genres, a writers group should have a bit more in common. If you’re a poet, find a poets group. If you’re a freelance writer, find a freelance writers group (they exist!).

    • Do the members in the writers group write more than they talk about writing?

Writers write. Keep that in mind. Yes it’s good and important to socialize with other writers but a writers group should be filled with people who are writing and it should motivate you to do the same.

    • Is the group committed to kind and constructive feedback?

This has to be a safe space. You have to feel comfortable sharing your work with likeminded people and if you encounter writers who are harsh or cruel then this isn’t the kind of group you want to be in. There’s a difference between ripping someone to shreds and offering helpful critique. New writers are more sensitive and don’t take criticism well, even if it’s well-intended. Make sure the group remembers what it was like to be new and not used to receiving criticism.

    • Do the members get along?

If the writers group has behaviour guidelines—even better! If you check out a writers group meeting and there’s bickering or snide remarks or shaming then this isn’t a good sign. Maybe there’s a bad egg and he or she needs to be removed from the group—ask the leaders what their behaviour policy is and don’t join a group where people don’t get along.

Of course no group is perfect and there are always moments where someone steps out of line or someone’s feelings get hurt. This is a part of being human. But if overall a writers group aims to meet these points then it is probably a good group. And I will also mention these groups aren’t always in person—there are virtual writers groups and critique groups that work better for some than in-person meetings do.

Where to find writers groups

Here are a few ideas for places to look when you’re ready to join a writers group.

  • Online. You can Google or search for “local writers groups” on Meetup and see what comes up. I’ve found groups this way and met a lot of interesting people through attending random local events I found online. You can do the same type of search on social media. I’ve joined lots of writers groups on Facebook and have found a couple I’m getting a lot out of
  • Writing associations. I’m part of a professional writing association (PWAC) and they have chapters all over Canada. I joined my local chapter and find a lot of value from my relationships with the other professional writers in the group
  • People you know. I mentioned how I met a local writer and she connected me with a writers group. I was so starved for connection and direction I couldn’t wait to go. Meeting other writers was so important to my development as a writer. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t met such wonderful mentors
  • Writers conferences. Yes! Going to a writers conference is huge in itself but if you can maintain relationships with a few of the writers you meet there, even better! Join an existing group or start your own. It’s a great option.Before you can choose a writers group you have to have some idea of what you're looking for and what you need. You should know what type of writing you do, how much commitment you can make, what type of writers group you're looking for, and how formal you want the group to be. Once you know those things, here are a few ways to tell if the group is a good writers group.

    Sometimes it feels like a lot of effort to connect with other writers and when you’re an introverted writer (as so many of us are) it can be that much tougher. I attend writers groups to stay connected and socialized as well as offer encouragement and support to the writers who I receive encouragement and support from. If you can find a good writers group I know you’ll understand why I recommend it! Why not give it a try?

April Flowers In Season Garden

April flowers…in season…in my garden.

I am not a gardener by any stretch but I interviewed a gardener for an article coming out next month and it inspired me to write a little more about the topic.

April flowers at my place

Purple Pansies

I love spring. Sigh. And the rain stopped for one day here in southwestern Canada so I feel hopeful again. Even if it lasts a mere moment before the rain comes back for more.

One of the things I love doing when I get home from a long day at work is walk around my flower beds and visit my flower friends. It’s remarkable how much they change in a day. Watching them grow before your eyes is an experience I can’t put into words but it fills me with wonder and awe and I feel my stress and anxiety melt away.

I found these pansies last summer, blooming in the middle of the front yard. My husband was mowing so I grabbed my shovel and rescued the plant, transplanting it in a front flowerbed where it was safe from the mower’s blade. What began as two flowers is now…quite something to behold!

April Flowers Hyacinth

For some reason I always forget these flowers are called grape hyacinths. Hyacinths, hyacinths. These are perfect flowers for me because they come up every year, low maintenance and have such a nice fragrance! They attract a lot of happy bees as well, which I’m glad for.

April Flowers Yellow Pansy

This is my newest yard rescue, found in March—again in the front yard—and is now safe from the lawn mower in my flower garden. I keep calling these plants pansies but you know, I’m not quite certain I’m right. When I Google it similarish flowers come up but not similar enough to remove all doubt. Perhaps this is my summertime quest.

April Flowers Daffodil

And this is my daffodil. What’s funny though, is I didn’t know I had a daffodil because I’ve never seen it before. This will be my third summer at my home and I’ve never had a daffodil. And I’ve never planted a daffodil. And yet, there it sits. Regal and daffodilly. And right smack in the middle of my flower bed. So. There we go. I have a daffodil.

My yard has a lot of shade so many of my flowers don’t show up until closer to summer. But right around the corner I’ll have tulips, lilacs and lilies so I may have to do this again.

Other times I wrote about gardening (but not April flowers)